Have firms given up on acting for Santander? Or even conveyancing?

Santander made a really important announcement last year, saying that if solicitors firms wanted to act for them then they have to have be CQS accredited by 31st March 2012.

On Saturday 9th February there were just 50 days left before the 31st March.

In December the Land Registry said 4400 firms made applications to them for transfers for value. These are mainly residential purchase transactions.

As of the 8th February there were 2158 firms that are CQS accredited and 341 with applications pending.

This means nearly half of all firms that did conveyancing in December will not be able to act for Santander in 50 days.

Whilst I probably have a little more faith than I did a year ago in the Law Society’s ability to process CQS applications efficiency and effectively, I still have some questions about some CQS procedures. I am sure I am not the only one.

But every conveyancer should have known this was coming months ago. It is their own fault not the Law Society’s if they are left out in the cold.

If you aren’t CQS and want to be a solicitor conveyancer it is time to act. The numbers are frightening.

If you are on the wrong side you will not be able to act for one in five, or one in six, of your clients. If you are on the right side, does this give you the confidence to recruit and grow?

In a guest blog on our website Rob Hailstone [link] talks about a fear that the HSBC cull being replaced by a creeping fear of panel removal as panels shrink.

Other firms are writing to the OFT complaining about lender power and trying to run abuse of dominant position arguments. I think these firms don’t truly understand competition law.

Maybe the answer is that more firms should actually apply for CQS?

Or do they know something about themselves that makes them unsuitable? If they do, maybe it’s time to leave this market.

Santander behaved honorably in this decision. They announced their policy and gave firms time to act. I am sure many conveyancers will be upset at that comment, but it was not a shock announcement in the vein of the HSBC decision.

Many conveyancers have clearly chosen not to do listen to the concerns. I have no issue with firms complaining about unannounced and secret policy changes by lenders but this one was public and all conveyancers should have known about it for some time.

Is it time to ask if why firms don’t have the Conveyancing Quality Standard as their kite mark and risk manage the answer when accepting undertakings? After all if Santander will not send their money to a firm without it, why should you send your client funds there?

These types of questions raise harsh and difficult questions for the whole profession.

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